Big News! On September 1, a big change in the Louisiana DWI law went into effect. From the Times-Pic:
Posted on Sep 8, 2009 in DUI/DWI, Legislation, Local Issues, Traffic
House Bill 445 by Rep. Damon Baldone, D-Houma, went into effect at midnight, doubling from six months to a year the length of time drivers can lose their license for refusing a first-time test. Subsequent refusals within five years of the first could mean a two-year suspension, up from the 18 months the old law provided.
This is an important change to the law. If you are pulled over for suspicion of drunk driving, you have the right to refuse a breathalyzer test. To refuse this test is not a crime. However, before this law went into effect, you would only receive a six-month penalty for refusing the test. Now, that penalty goes up to a year. Note that you still have the right to refuse the breathalyzer, and that refusing the test gives you more leverage against prosecutors as you and your attorney negotiate your case. If you take a breathalyzer test when you’re pulled over, prosecutors have that solid piece of evidence to use to convict you of DWI. If they don’t have any results from a breathalyzer test, you have more leverage to negotiate for a lesser charge. But since this new law has gone into effect, the immediate penalties for refusing a breathalyzer test in Louisiana have become more severe. While refusing the test gives you a better chance to avoid that Louisiana felony DWI conviction, it will also mean that you will have to go for a full year without your driver’s license, so you have to weigh the pros and cons of each option. It’s important to note that if you choose to refuse the breathalyzer test, losing your license, you may be able to apply for a “hardship license” that will allow you to drive to certain places, like work or religious services. You will only get the hardship license, however, if you install an ignition interlock device that you have to blow into to confirm that your BAC is 0%. Whether you refused to take the breathalyzer test or agreed to blow, if you have been arrested for DWI in Louisiana it’s crucial that you retain a DWI lawyer as soon as possible. At Bloom Legal, we have one of New Orleans’ top certified DWI lawyers here to help you. As always, if you need a talented, committed DWI Louisiana lawyer, call us today at 504.599.9997.